CHICAGO, April 28, 2014 /PRNewswire/ – Graduation season is upon us, and this year graduates can expect to find improving job prospects. A new study from CareerBuilder and CareerRookie.com finds that 57 percent of employers say they plan to hire new college graduates, up from 53 percent last year and up significantly from 44 percent in 2010.
While most employers believe recent college graduates are ready for the real world, nearly one in four (24 percent) don’t feel academic institutions are adequately preparing students for positions needed within their organizations.
“Education plays a critical role in bridging the skills gap and fostering a capable and productive workforce,” said Brent Rasmussen, President of CareerBuilder North America. “The vast majority of employers feel that the skills and knowledge base students gain at academic institutions are aligned with their company needs, but nearly one in four sense a disconnect. As roles within organizations grow more complex and demand for certain degrees outpaces graduation rates, there is an opportunity for employers to work more closely with schools to help guide learning experiences for the next generation of workers.”
The national survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from February 10 to March 4, 2014, and included a representative sample of 2,138 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes.
Why are they not prepared?
So why do some employers feel that college graduates are not up to task? The most common concerns include:
- Too much emphasis on book learning instead of real world learning – 53 percent
- My company needs a blend of technical skills and soft skills gained from liberal arts – 35 percent
- Entry level roles are growing more complex – 26 percent
- Not enough focus on internships/apprenticeships – 16 percent
- Technology is changing too quickly for academics to keep up – 16 percent
- Not enough students are graduating with the degrees my company needs– 10 percent
What positions are they not prepared for?
According to employers, recent graduates are less prepared for certain business functions than others. Employers who do not feel students are adequately prepared are most concerned about roles tied to customer service (41 percent), public relations/communications (22 percent), business development (21 percent), sales (21 percent), general office functions (20 percent), and IT (18 percent).
Which college majors are most in demand?
As with years past, demand for business and technical majors remains high. The most sought-after majors this year include:
- Business – 39 percent
- Computer and Information Sciences – 28 percent
- Engineering – 18 percent
- Math and Statistics – 14 percent
- Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences – 14 percent
- Communications Technologies – 12 percent
- Engineering Technologies – 11 percent
- Education – 7 percent
- Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies, and Humanities – 10 percent
- Science Technologies – 7 percent
- Communication and Journalism – 7 percent
What will they pay?
While most (61 percent) employers will be offering new graduates the same starting salaries they did last year, nearly one-third (30 percent) say they expect their initial offers to increase. Nine percent of employers expect a decrease in starting salaries. Expected starting salaries for recent graduates break down as follows:
- Under $30,000 – 26 percent
- $30,000 to less than $40,000 - 30 percent
- $40,000 to less than $50,000 – 20 percent
- $50,000 and higher – 24 percent
CareerRookie.com’s Tips for Recent Graduates
- No Such Thing as Too Much Education – While the thought of more classes after graduating may not be at the top of first-time job seekers’ minds, it may help them secure employment. Two-thirds (64 percent) of employers say they’d be more likely to hire someone who supplemented traditional coursework with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and 54 percent would consider hiring someone whose primary source of education was MOOCs.
- Experience Can Come From Everywhere - While many recent graduates are intimidated by their supposed lack of experience when entering the workforce, they may be overlooking experiences some employers would consider relevant. Beyond just previous jobs and internships, useful experience can come from classwork, volunteering, and extra-curriculars as well.
- Social Networking to Professional Networking – Most college students are well versed in networking online, which can be incredibly helpful when searching for a job. However, as with social networking, creating a strong professional network requires real-world interaction. A good in-person connection followed by an online follow-up can leave a more lasting impression than the digital connection alone.